If you heeded the advice of shopping experts who said the best deals on new high-definition TVs would be right before the Super Bowl, now you know how Minnesota Vikings kicker Blair Walsh feels.
Walsh, as you may or may not recall, missed what would have been a game-winning field goal in the waning seconds of a Jan. 10 playoff game against the Seattle Seahawks, allowing the defending NFC champs to fight another day.
Just like Walsh, you also missed the goal posts if you held off until just before Super Bowl 50 on Feb. 7, which will pit the Carolina Panthers against the Denver Broncos, to buy a new HDTV. There are still some good discounts, but nothing so savory as the offers that recently expired.
“In the last week of December and the first week of January (discounts) on HDTVs were in the 42-percent-off arena,” Sara Skirboll, a spokeswoman for the online coupon and deal marketplace RetailMeNot, told NBC News on Wednesday.
Now, she says, they’re in the 25 percent range.
If that doesn’t make you feel quite as bad as Walsh, consider this: The best deal for HDTVs was on Black Friday, when they were marked down a whopping 47 percent, according to Skirboll.
Back in late December, retail experts predicted that, along with items like linens and winter apparel, TVs were a must-buy item in January, as that was the month that the prices would be the lowest.
The predictions were based on the fact that retailers would be looking to clear stock after being bewitched by new products revealed to them at the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) held earlier this month.
Holiday returns also were expected to play a part, Skirboll said, and they did for a time.
“Because of the after-holiday sales rush there were lot of open box items and returns,” she said. “That slashed the price a little bit, which is why these discounts were so deep.”
But the third part of the scenario – that retailers would be competing to push products to shoppers preparing for that most TV-centric sports event – has played out a bit differently than the analysts expected.
"I think the prediction being off is not necessarily a direct correlation to the Super Bowl, but rather about the cost of goods and the amount of people buying those goods over the last few months," said Skirboll. "Retailers may have discounted so heavily -- to the consumer's delight -- in late December and early January … (that) they are having to readjust the remainder of their January promotional calendar, which includes television sets."
Even though the prices aren’t as low as they were before Christmas and in early January, there is good news for consumers looking to buy TVs in time for the Big Game. Discounts are now being offered on high-end products, rather than older stock or “derivative” sets that were mainly offered during the blowout sales.
Brent Shelton, online shopping expert at FatWallet.com, says that the discounts now being offered are largely on new 4K models, which weren't seeing much sales action in December and early January.
"The selection of TV models on sale now are generally of a higher quality, more features, better refresh rates etc. and cost more," Shelton told NBC News, "So the discounting appears less as a percentage, but the savings are very similar in (value). Those crazy door-buster TV deals during Black Friday/Cyber Monday (items) are not the pick of the litter, especially when you want to upgrade for an action TV event like the Super Bowl."
He added that discounts on 4K HDTVs will most likely be reduced after the game.
Best Buy has what RetailMeNot’s Skirboll thinks are probably the best deals out there for TVs at the moment. Some of the best, confirmed by Best Buy spokesman Shane Kirtzman, are:
- A 55-inch LG Smart Roku HDTV for $549 ($100 off).
- A 49-inch Sony 4K Ultra HD TV for $799 ($200 off).
- A 55-inch Samsung 4K Ultra HD TV for $999 ($600 off).
- A 55-inch LG 4K Ultra HD TV for $699 ($500 off).
- A 60-inch Samsung 4K Ultra HD TV for $999 ($800 off)
Best Buy has other TV-related sales on now, including free delivery on sets of 51 inches or bigger, and up to 30 percent off on LG TVs through Jan. 30.
Now, back to those blowout sales. If you really want to get the biggest bang for your buck for your Super Bowl shindig, consider picking up some fan gear, party supplies, and of course, ordering lots of pizza.